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Here’s how to make a classic risotto recipe: creamy and savory, flavored with Parmesan and a splash of white wine.

Risotto Recipe
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Here’s a cooking technique every home cook should know: how to make a great risotto recipe! Risotto is an Italian rice dish that works as a side dish and as a main, starring short-grain rice cooked in broth until its creamy and velvety. Flavored with garlic, Parmesan cheese and a splash of white wine, it tastes luxuriously glamorous: but the concept is incredibly simple. Here’s what you need to know about how to make this Italian classic.

What is risotto?

Risotto is an Italian rice dish where short grain Arborio rice is cooked in broth until it becomes creamy. Most methods use butter, onion, and garlic, white wine to deglaze the pan, and Parmesan cheese to finish. Risotto is generally served as a first course in Italy, where meals are structured as antipasti, first plate, and second plate. There are many variations on a risotto recipe: mushroom, shrimp, truffle, and more.

Risotto Recipe

Ingredients in a classic risotto recipe

This risotto recipe is classic and straightforward, with no additional vegetables or proteins. You can serve it as a side dish and add a protein on top, or a main dish with cooked protein and vegetables integrated into the rice. The most important part of risotto? Finding the correct type of rice. Here are some notes on ingredients:

  • Arborio rice: Short grain arborio rice is a must! This type of rice absorbs the liquid as it cooks, naturally creating a creamy and thickened texture. This does not work with long grain rice. Arborio rice is easy to find at your local grocery, so make sure to find the real thing!
  • Vegetable or chicken broth: Use either one. In this recipe we also add water to the broth to even out the flavor.
  • White wine: The wine adds a savory, oaky undertone that’s essential to the dish. Most of the alcohol is cooked out in the cooking process. If you prefer, you can skip the wine!
  • Onion and garlic: These aromatics bring big flavor to the dish.
  • Butter and olive oil: The combination of fats adds extra nuance.
  • Parmesan cheese: This aged Italian cheese is key to the flavor in this dish. You can substitute Pecorino Romano cheese, but keep in mind: it’s much saltier. Use about half to start, then add more to taste.
Risotto Recipe

Tips for making risotto

Making a risotto is a simple process: but there are a few things to remember to make the perfect dish. Here are our top tips for making a great risotto recipe:

  • Heat the broth. The Arborio rice immediately absorbs the broth if it’s hot, but if it’s cold it changes the temperature of the dish and affects the cooking process. You’ll want a few ladles of warm broth at a time.
  • Stir in broth gradually: be patient! Add a few ladles, then keep stirring to incorporate the broth. As soon as it’s absorbed, add more. Continue in this way for about 12 minutes. It requires some babysitting, but grab a glass of wine and enjoy the process!
  • Adjust the heat as necessary to keep a steady simmer. If the heat is too high, it can burn or not cook through. If the heat too low, the rice grains can get waterlogged.
  • It’s ready when it’s tender but slightly al dente. The grains of rice should be slightly al dente (to have a bite of chew in the center) and stay separate from each other as they float in the thickened broth.
Risotto Recipe

Types of risotto recipes

There are many variations on a risotto. Use this one as a template and add ingredients like sautéed or roasted vegetables, cooked shrimp, and so forth. This classic risotto recipe is basic as is, so you’ll want to serve it as a side dish with a protein (like roast chicken or a vegetarian main), or add some protein or other ingredients to round it out. Here are a few other risotto recipes and some ideas for additions:

Leftover storage

Lastly, how to store leftovers! Risotto is best the day it’s made, in our opinion. However, you can save it for up to 3 days refrigerated. Here are a few notes on reheating it:

  • The rice texture will become less creamy as it sits and especially when it’s chilled.
  • Reheat on the stovetop and add a little extra broth and Parmesan cheese, and a few pinches salt to taste.

And that’s it! We hope you enjoy this risotto recipe: let us know how it comes out in the comments below!

This risotto recipe is…

Vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Risotto Recipe

Classic Risotto Recipe

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.7 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x


Here’s how to make a classic risotto recipe: creamy and savory, flavored with Parmesan and a splash of white wine.


  • ½ cup minced sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 quart vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups dry white arborio rice
  • 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay*
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
  • Zest from ½ lemon
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme (optional but recommended)
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Prep the vegetables: Prepare the onion and garlic and noted above.
  2. Heat the broth: Combine the broth with 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon kosher salt in a saucepan and bring it to a low simmer. Reduce heat to low.
  3. Sauté the vegetables: In a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat until the butter is melted. Add the minced onion and cook for about 2 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and dry rice and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes until the rice starts to turn light brown.
  4. Add the wine: Stir in the wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is fully absorbed, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the broth: Add two ladles of the hot broth to the risotto. Cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is fully absorbed, then add two more ladles of both. Cook in this same manner for about 12 minutes, adding two ladles and stirring frequently. Continue to adjust the heat to make sure the risotto is at a steady simmer. After 12 minutes, taste a grain of rice. If it’s creamy but still al dente in the center, you’re ready for the final step! If not, continue to cook and add broth for a few minutes more. (You’ll have some broth left over: save it for reheating leftovers.) 
  6. Finish the risotto: When the rice is al dente, reduce the heat to low. Add two more ladles of broth, the Parmesan cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes until you’ve got a thick and creamy risotto. Add the lemon zest, fresh thyme, and black pepper. Taste and add more salt as desired (we add another heaping ¼ teaspoon kosher salt). Serve with additional Parmesan cheese to top. 
  7. Storage info: Flavor is best day of. You can store leftovers refrigerated for up to 3 days, but the texture will become less creamy when chilled. Reheat on the stovetop and add a little extra broth and Parmesan cheese, and a few pinches salt to taste.


*If you prefer avoiding wine, you can skip Step 4 and move straight to adding the broth.

  • Category: Side or main
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Sherree Mongrain says:

    This is my “go-to” risotto recipe! I find that it works beautifully if i take it, use the lades of broth as recommended, and stir almost constantly. I think its great without the lemon zest and thyme, but used it this time and really enjoyed it with our steaks!

  2. Connie Martin says:

    Way too much liquid- I ended up ladling off most of what I had added to the risotto after 12 minutes went by without it being absorbed and pouring the liquid still warming in the saucepan down the drain. Then it finally started looked like risotto instead of rice soup. The risotto cooked up fine without all the liquid. I did not use any lemon and went very very light on the salt. The risotto had a nice texture and taste and it went well with our pork tenderloin and oven roasted Brussels sprouts but I felt the taste would have been better without the thyme which seemed to fight with the other flavors instead of complementing them. I may try another herb in place of thyme. I do like the recipe and the fact that it cooks more quickly than my other risotto recipes and I will be using it again once I make the alterations I noted above. Husband gave it a 3 star rating, I gave it 4.

  3. Jan says:

    Great recipe – very easy to follow – and great tasting end result.

  4. Erin says:

    Was my first time making risotto. Would’ve been great but the bitterness from the lemon zest was overpowering and very distracting.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Make sure to just use the yellow portion and not get any of the pith.

  5. Linda Cabeza says:

    How many cups of liquid for the rissoto? Thank you

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We use 1 quart broth and 1 quart water — though we usually end up with a bit remaining.